A third Ebola patient is headed to the special Biocontainment Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center this weekend, according to news reports Thursday.
The Associated Press identified the patient as Martin Salia, a surgeon who was infected with the virus while treating victims in Sierra Leone, one of the hardest-hit areas of West Africa.
The patient is a Sierra Leonean national who is a permanent resident of the United States and lives in Maryland, AP reported, citing an anonymous source. He reportedly was working at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, when he came down with Ebola symptoms on Nov. 6.
He tested negative for the virus at that time, AP reported. When he was tested again on Monday, the results came back positive.
The patient will arrive Saturday at the University of Nebraska facility, the Omaha World-Herald reported, citing an unidentified person « with knowledge of the patient’s impending arrival. »
He is in stable condition at an Ebola treatment center in Freetown, AP reported.
The university would not confirm the reports, saying in a written statement that the staff has « been in a state of readiness » to treat Ebola patients since August, when the State Department visited its Biocontainment Unit, the nation’s largest.
« As with previous patients we’ve treated here in recent months, per State Department regulations, we would only have confirmation when a plane is en route with a patient aboard, » spokesman Taylor Wilson said. « This is not the case right now. If we haveconfirmation of a patient headed to our facility, we will share what information we can with you. In the meantime, our organization is ready if needed. »
The Biocontainment Unithas already successfully treated and released two others: Dr. Rick Sacra, a missionary delivering babies in Liberia, and Ashoka Mukpo, an NBC News freelance cameraman who also became infected while working in Liberia.
Among the special features of the 10-bed unit are air-handling, filtration and ultraviolet systems to keep micro-organisms from spreading beyond a patient’s room.
Earlier Thursday, Ron Klain, the White House Ebola-response coordinator, said the country would « see other cases of Ebola in the United States, as the president has said, occasionally and sporadically. »
He hailed the successful treatment of a New York doctor infected while treating Ebola patients in Guinea.
« It’s a milestone because it shows that our health care system can successfully identify, isolate and treat an Ebola patient, and return him home healthy, » he toldrepresentatives of nonprofit and faith-based groups meeting at the White House.
« We are not at the beginning of the end or even the end of the beginning, but we are at the throes of this effort in West Africa with interventions that can work, » he added.